Archive for the ‘chocolate’ Category

An Evening of Chocolate Tasting with Les Amants du Chocolat de la Couronne Parisienne

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013
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One of the advantages of blogging about chocolate tastings is that one meets people who invite you to…more chocolate tastings!

It was at the hot chocolate demonstration at Mococha where I met Sabine Malet, secretary of the chocolate appreciation club Les Amants du Chocolat de la Couronne Parisienne. Sabine told me about her club’s tasting that would feature the chocolate of Laurence Dali, who operates O Mille et une Fèves in the 20th arrondissement of Paris. Naturally, I wanted to be part of that.

La Petite Fabrique

La Petite Fabrique
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

The tasting was held at an organic restaurant called La Petite Fabrique at 15, rue des Vignoles, not too far from Laurence’s shop. About fifteen people were in attendance and all were in a jovial mood. Laurence set the tone by distributing bars of Santo Domingo 70% Criollo chocolate, one of the finest chocolates available. She supplied enough to taste to our hearts’ content while she talked about how she quit her desk job at the age of 40 to plunge into the world of chocolate making. After taking a two-year program at the prestigious Grégoire Ferrandi cooking school in Paris, she opened her own boutique. And the rest is history!

Laurence makes fruit, spice, and nut-coated chocolate bars, molded chocolates, chocolate-dipped candied fruit, chocolate-dipped dried fruit, and pralines. She doesn’t, however, make cream-filled chocolates (ganaches). She uses 64% cocoa as the base of her chocolate bars (except the Criollo). During the tasting, she distributed many different samples of all of these varieties — one at a time.

Chocolate-dipped Candied Ginger

Chocolate-dipped Candied Ginger
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

I enjoyed the chocolate-dipped candied ginger. It yielded softly to the bite.

Espelette-dusted Chocolate

Espelette-dusted Chocolate
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

The Espelette-dusted chocolate bar had a spicy sting, while the crumbled Speculoos top of another bar provided crunchy, caramelized counterpoint to the chocolate. The chocolate-dipped candied orange peel came through with full orange flavor, while the covering of the chocolate-dipped dried fig overwhelmed the flavor of the fig.

There was much more to taste. It was a chocolate lover’s dream!

Virginie

Virginie
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

At the end of the tasting it was time for dinner. The waitress, Virginie, took our orders and we tucked into a delicious vegetarian meal.

Around the Table

Around the Table
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

A good time was had by all!

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Making Hot Chocolate with Rémi Henry at Mococha

Wednesday, October 9th, 2013
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Marie-Hélène Gantois and Rémi Henry

Marie-Hélène Gantois and Rémi Henry
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

On Thursday evening, September 26, I attended a chocolate-making demonstration at Mococha, Marie-Hélène Gantois’ shop on rue Mouffetard. She had invited chocolate-maker Rémi Henry to show how to grind fresh-roasted cocoa beans and then prepare a delicious hot chocolate from them.

Husking the Roasted Cocoa Bean

Husking the Roasted Cocoa Bean
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

All it takes is patience. First you roast some raw cocoa beans in a frying pan (this was not demonstrated, due to safety concerns and time constraints). Then, when they are cool you husk them.

Grinding the Cocoa Beans

Grinding the Cocoa Beans
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

Rémi took the husked beans, placed them on a stone slab, and proceeded to crush them. He added sugar to sweeten.

Cocoa Paste

Cocoa Paste
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

The crushed beans eventually formed a paste, which Rémi distributed to taste.

Tasting the Chocolate

Tasting the Chocolate
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

Freshly-ground cocoa beans that have been roasted at low temperatures have a wonderful earthy flavor. It is a rare occasion indeed to get the opportunity to experience this!

Grinding the Cocoa Beans with a Hand-cranked Grinder

Grinding the Cocoa Beans with a Hand-cranked Grinder
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

One of the attendees tried his hand at grinding cocoa beans with a hand-cranked grinder. It requires a lot of strength! He received a little help from his dad.

A Cup of Hot Chocolate

A Cup of Hot Chocolate
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

I couldn’t stay for the rest of the demonstration, but returned a couple of days later to sample the hot chocolate. Made with fresh-ground cocoa beans, sugar, cinnamon, and pepper, it tastes best when it is reheated several times and allowed to sit for two days. Made without milk or cream, it is a delicious restorative beverage!

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Le Royal by Delmontel

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013
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Le Royal by Delmontel

Le Royal by Delmontel
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

We stopped by the award-winning bakery and pastry shop of Arnaud Delmontel a few weeks ago and purchased Le Royal, a chocolate pastry in the form of a cube. Covered with dark chocolate syrup it has a hard-shell top and a chocolate mousse filling. When I bit through the dense mousse, I discovered a crunchy shortbread crust, which provided a nice contrast to the soft texture of this confection. The bittersweet chocolate flavor of Le Royal will please most chocolate aficionados.

Delmontel
9, rue des Martyrs
75009 Paris
Tel: 01.48.78.29.33
Open every day from 7:00 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. except Tuesdays.

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Venezuela Puertofino 75% by Jacques Bellanger

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013
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Venezuela Puertofino 75% by Jacques Bellanger

Venezuela Puertofino 75% by Jacques Bellanger
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

We stopped by Mococha Chocolates the other day and learned that we were just in time to purchase a special product that Marie had received: Jacques Bellanger Venezuela Puertofino 75%. Marie could hardly contain her enthusiasm for the chocolate, which she described as being rare—it is harvested from cocoa trees that grow on the high plateaus of Venezuela.

There are only three chocolate producers that commercialize Venezuela Puertofino, one of which is Jacques Bellanger. She has a small supply of the product in her shop, which she offers for sale.

We purchased a tablet and took it home to taste.

Monique’s tasting notes:
It has a brilliant, shiny finish and a light, slightly sweet aroma. Slow to melt in the mouth, its first flavor is of ash or burnt charcoal. It has notes of fruit and wood smoke with caramel at the finish.

My tasting notes:
For a product that contains 75% cocoa, the Venezuela Puertofino 75% is amazingly sweet, with no bitter aftertaste. The lasting impression that I have of the chocolate is that it tastes like a Fudgsicle, my favorite treat as a kid. I think that I’ll have another!

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A Chocolate and Spirits Tasting

Wednesday, April 24th, 2013
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Alexandre Billon et Marie-Hélène Gantois

Alexandre Billon et Marie-Hélène Gantois
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

On Thursday, April 18, I attended a chocolate and spirits tasting organized by Marie-Hélène Gantois of Mococha Chocolats on rue Mouffetard. She invited Alexandre Billon of La Fontaine aux Vins (107, rue Mouffetard) to present three spirits in association with three of Marie’s chocolates.

Three Spirits

Three Spirits
Photography by www.DiscoverParis.net

LeRoch V.S.O.P. cognac, a blend of three Petite Champagne cognacs, was selected for the first pairing. I learned that Petite Champagne is a geographic zone of the area around the town of Cognac, where wines destined for cognac production are grown. Marie paired this spirit with a praliné au sarrasin grillé by chocolate maker Jacques Bellanger. When I first tasted the praliné, I thought that it was made from roasted peanuts, but it’s not, it’s made from toasted buckwheat. The light flavor of buckwheat went well with the light and delicate flavor of the cognac. A good match!

Alexandre Billon

Alexandre Explains the Fine Points of Rum from Guadeloupe
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

The second liquor was Karukera rum from Guadeloupe. Alexandre explained that rum from this island does not have an AOC certification (controlled designation of origin) as does rum from nearby Martinique. The principal reason for this is that producers have to adhere to certain standards to receive the AOC certification, and the Guadeloupean producers choose not to. The rum was paired with Furie ganache jus et zeste de citron vert by Fabrice Gillotte. It was a clever idea to pair the rum with a ganache containing zest and juice of lime, because rum is often served with this fruit. Again, a nice pairing!

Marie Serves Delicious Chocolates

Marie Serves Delicious Chocolates to Her Guests
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

The third alcohol was Glenfarclas Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky. This whisky, aged 12 years, had only a hint of peat. Its slightly sweet flavor went well with the Fabrice Gillotte chocolate flavored with fève de tonka, a bean that tastes faintly like clove.

Marie Explains Tasting Procedure

Marie Explains Tasting Procedure
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

The chocolate and spirits tasting was a great success. A good time was had by all!

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Autrement Chocolat by Christophe Potel

Wednesday, March 27th, 2013
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Last Thursday evening Maire-Hélène Gantois of Mococha, our favorite chocolate shop on rue Mouffetard, held an open-house chocolate tasting at her store. She invited Christophe Potel of Autrement Chocolat, a producer of chocolate confections in the nearby town of Colombes, to present his designer chocolates.

Christophe Potel and Marie-Hélène Gantois

Christophe Potel of Autrement Chocolat
Marie-Hélène Gantois of Mococha

Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

“Designer” is the appropriate word to use here, because Potel earned a degree in design from the Ecole Supérieure de Design Industriel and then went on to work for Dior (fashion), Christofle (tableware), Cartier (jewelry), and Léonard (fashion). After a number of years he decided that his true calling was in chocolate, so he founded his own confection company. To learn his new trade he studied with Jérôme Lespinay, the former chief of production for chocolatier Patrice Chapon.

Potel makes several kinds of chocolates, including Tubos (tubes), Amulettes (matchsticks), and Tablettes (tablets). The ones that we tasted that evening were Tubos, which look like lipstick containers.

Tubos

There are fifteen different flavors of Tubo. Each is identified by a distinctive pattern that is stamped on the end of the tube. Potel proclaims that the tube of chocolate can be cut into pieces and shared with friends, which is an advantage to choosing Tubos over other forms.

My preferred was the Caramel Beurre Salé Liquide, liquid salty caramel enrobed in dark-chocolate. Contrary to the other flavors, this one cannot be cut into smaller portions because the sticky caramel is immediately released and makes a mess. After the tasting, it took only two bites to consume the sample that I brought home. No cutting and sharing here! I enjoyed the rich, heavenly-sweet butterscotch flavor as it oozed out of the chocolate tube. Sublime!

Another flavor that I enjoyed was the Ganache Mojito, made of dark chocolate, mint, lime, and rum.

Carrousel

One of the products that Potel has developed (and patented) is a carrousel for producing shaved chocolate. Although the advantage of shaved chocolate is not immediately obvious, Potel’s associate Céline Barbe told me that the “flowers” that are created can be served with espresso, or can be used to decorate cakes, ice cream, and other desserts. And here is another way to share chocolate with friends: place the carrousel in the middle of the table and let each guest cut a shaving for himself/herself.

Origami

Not content with just designing chocolate tubes, matchsticks, tablets, and a carrousel, Potel has created a chocolate origami chicken for Easter. Marie-Hélène brought it out to show to us, but alas! we didn’t get a chance to taste it.

Chocolats Mococha
89, rue Mouffetard
75005 Paris
Tel.: 01.47.07.13.66
Métro: Censier Daubenton (Line 7)

Open Tuesday through Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Christophe Potel’s chocolates will be for sale at Mococha until June 30.

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The Big Bang Boom Bloggers’ Meet-up and Tweeps’ Tweet-up Is Now History

Thursday, March 14th, 2013
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Mary Kay Bosshart - Adrian Leeds - Rosemary Kneipp - Tom Reeves -  Lisa Rankin - Thomas Butler - Donna Morris - Marie Gantois

Mary Kay Bosshart – Adrian Leeds – Rosemary Kneipp – Tom Reeves – Lisa Rankin – Thomas Butler – Donna Morris – Marie Gantois
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

The Big Bang Boom Bloggers’ Meet-up and Tweeps’ Tweet-up is now history, and what an event it was! Bloggers and tweeps braved freezing weather and icy streets on Tuesday evening to attend the social mixer that we hosted at the Caveau Montpensier. A big thank-you goes out to Jeb, the owner, for providing space for us to meet, and to Priscila Pilon (Weekend in Paris) and Forest Collins (52 Martinis) for their invaluable advice and suggestions about how to organize this event.

Thomas Butler - Elizabeth Milovidov - Niki Borofski jpg

Thomas Butler – Elizabeth Milovidov – Niki Borofski
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

The event was a great opportunity for people to come together, renew old acquaintances, and to make new ones! The following persons attended:

Andrea Carroll and Donna Morris

Andrea Carroll and Donna Morris
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

Elizabeth Milovidov with Chocolate Sculpture

Elizabeth Milovidov with Chocolate Sculpture
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

The big attraction for the evening—and probably the real reason why people showed up in spite of the freezing weather—was the chance to win a scale-model chocolate statue of Auguste Rodin’s La Danaïde made by chocolatier Jean-Charles Rochoux. Elizabeth correctly identified the statue from the intriguing image of its fesses (buttocks) that we posted on our Web site two weeks before the event. Congratulations, Elizabeth!

La Danaïde by Auguste Rodin

Chocolate Replica of La Danaïde by Auguste Rodin
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

The giveaway was timed to promote the launch of our exciting new game called Guess the Fesses—it is an online quiz that tests your knowledge of sculptures that grace the Paris landscape. Designed to be fun, the correct answers are revealed immediately after each guess. At the end of the quiz, if you want to learn more about the sculptures, you can take our free virtual tour of Paris!

Guess the Fesses

Guess the Fesses
Mystery Fesses N° 1

Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

Now that your interest is piqued, click here to begin!

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One Week from Today! – Big Bang Boom Bloggers’ Meet-up and Tweeps’ Tweet-up in Paris

Tuesday, March 5th, 2013
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Join Tom Reeves and Monique Y. Wells of Discover Paris! on Tuesday, March 12, 2013 from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Caveau Montpensier in central Paris for a fabulous bloggers’ and tweeps’ mixer!

Our last meet-up/tweet-up was held in May 2011. Called the “Monster Bloggers’ Meet-up and Tweet-up,” it was a blast. This year it promises to be even bigger. That’s why we’re calling it the “Big Bang Boom Bloggers’ Meet-up and Tweeps Tweet-up!”

As a special treat, we’re holding a drawing to give away a fabulous prize in the form of a scale-model statue made out of pure chocolate. We’ll award it to the person who can correctly identify the statue!

Meet with fellow bloggers and tweeps at the event to chat and network. Remember to bring a good supply of business cards!

Click here to register and to let us know that you are coming.

We look forward to seeing you there!

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Paris Insights Monthly Newsletter – Tasting Malagasy Chocolate from Five French Producers

Friday, February 1st, 2013
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Five Malagasy Chocolates

Five Malagasy Chocolates

For our annual chocolate tasting, we assembled four tasters—three of whom are professionals in cooking or in chocolate—to taste and rate Malagasy chocolate made by five different French chocolate makers. Read our report to find out which of the five chocolates the panel preferred!

To view a preview of our newsletter, click here.

Paris Insights is published monthly as a downloadable PDF file. It is available only to paid subscribers for an annual subscription fee of $30.

If you are not a paid subscriber and would like to download the newsletter, please click here. Enter promotional code 11473309154 to receive a $5 discount off the price of an annual subscription.

Bonne lecture!

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Hugo & Victor Chocolates – Unbagging and Unboxing!

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013
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We passed by the Hugo & Victor boutique recently looking for Madagascar chocolate for our annual chocolate tasting. Spotting a display of Carnet de 6 Chocolats, I purchased one to take home to try. (I also purchased a bar of Madagascar chocolate…more about that later.)

Out of the Bag

Out of the Bag
www.DiscoverParis.net

Carnet means book in French, and this little book containing six different chocolates would provide a good sampling of the type of chocolates that this company produces.

Carnet

Carnet
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

Opening up the book, I saw six ganaches. A brochure listed their names: Voie lactée, Montezuma, Praliné Feuilletine, Poivre de Tasmanie, Palet or, and Framboise. If this were truly a book, it would make nice reading!

Carnet de 6 Chocolats

Carnet de 6 Chocolats
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

Our tasting notes:

Voie lactée: Tender bite, sweet milk chocolate, unctuous, light caramel taste.
Montezuma: Sweet, cloying. Mango and spice flavors that overpower the chocolate.
Praliné Feuilletine: Ground hazelnut and dark chocolate. Grainy texture, like fine sand.
Poivre de Tasmanie: Spicy, peppery. Tastes like Juicy Fruit gum.
Palet or: Pure chocolate from a combination of the best cocoa beans. Melts rapidly in mouth.
Framboise: Has a nice odor of raspberry and dark chocolate. Strong raspberry flavor. Slightly grainy with raspberry seeds.

We enjoyed these chocolates from Hugo & Victor. As for the bar of Madagascar chocolate, read how that fared in our annual chocolate tasting in the February issue of our Paris Insights newsletter.

Hugo & Victor
40, boulevard Raspail
75007 Paris
Telephone: 01.44.39.97.73
Open from Mon to Wed from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., Thurs to Sat from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. and Sun from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

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